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Wittgenstein's Nephew

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,141 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
It is 1967. In separate wings of a Viennese hospital, two men lie bedridden. The narrator, Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of madness. As their once-casual friendship quickens, these two eccentric men begin to discover in each other a pos ...more
Paperback, 106 pages
Published February 15th 1990 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1982)
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Mar 16, 2016 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Wittgenstein’s Nephew is a thing about Paul , nephew of a great though rather dismissed in native country philosopher , Ludwig Wittgenstein ; is a thing about illness and falling into madness ; at last is a thing about dying and death . But most of all Wittgenstein’s Nephew is a thing about friendship and its nature .

In 1967 , at the same time though in two separated wings of hospital , resides our narrator ( due to lungs disease ) whilst his friend Paul Wittgenstein is under psychiatric ca
Apr 13, 2014 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A highly readable work of dazzling intensity. The novella is based in part on a true story: author Bernhard's friendship with philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's grand nephew, Paul. Prepare yourself for a blast of intellectually dense but very compelling--and funny--writing. The book is at bottom a great howl of rage against death. Bernhard in his day (1931-1989) was perhaps Austria's most controversial novelist/playwright. The narrator, based on Bernhard, and his familiar, Paul Wittgenstein, shar ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
May 11, 2012 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Fick! What started out as the cause of me once again whining under my breath about Bernhard's head-clubbing repetition slowly evolved into a rewarding, mist upon the eyes causing, scrupulous bloodletting of Bernhard's personal guilt, nostalgia, and self-reflection resulting from the passing of his closest friend, literally Wittgenstein's nephew, Paul Wittgenstein. Paul was, as Bernhard and various Mental Health Professionals proclaimed, a certifiable Madman. However, Paul argued he was at least ...more
A quickie review, so put on your non-porous splash suit and buckle yourself in. Eschewing his emblematic deranged, run-on style, Bernhard serves up Wittgenstein's Nephew as both a eulogy of his friend Paul Wittgenstein, the famed philosopher's mentally unbalanced nephew, and a bleak rumination on death -- or more pointedly, the slow, surreptitious death that constitutes life. If you know someone who is despairing about about his or her physical deterioration and impending death, do not be so tho ...more
Apr 27, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Making sense of the world is difficult stuff. Whether you start from the cosmos and work your way back to the self, or vis-versa, the thought of how things happen or why things exist at all remains insolubly complex. Most of us are either too caught up in the everyday exigencies of life or simply can't be bothered to give the mysteries our full attention. But what if you couldn’t stop thinking about such things? What if you were constantly, manically shifting the focus away from the humdrum and ...more
M. Sarki
Mar 05, 2014 M. Sarki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is one of those Bernhard books that most devotees say they loved but speak little about why or how it happened. Those who do are predictable in their comments regarding Bernhard's plot, his friendships, judgments, and in general, death. Nothing wrong with either approach, but it just doesn't get the uninitiated where she needs to be. This particular Bernhard tale is quite unlike anything else he has written. Almost easier to stomach the vitriol and ra
May 15, 2015 Deepthi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Bernhard likes very few things, especially people. To paraphrase his narrator, who at a certain instance in the novel ruthlessly points out, one doesn't even have to use all the five fingers of one hand to count the things or ideas or ideals of the society he is in good terms with. A sample of his raw judgement:

For let us not deceive ourselves: most of the minds we associate with are housed in heads that have little more to offer than overgrown potatoes, stuck on top of whining and tastelessly
Justin Evans
Mar 25, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'm giving this five stars because I'm already nostalgic for the times when I had new Bernhard to read--I've only got a couple more novels to go before I move on to the stories. This is an odd part of his work, since it's actually kind of in praise of something. It's in praise of a mentally disturbed wastrel, yes, but still, it's in praise of something. Bernhard records his friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, their mutual sicknesses, then moves on to more usual Bernhard territory (I HATE VI ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Had this not been part fiction I would have unhesitatingly called its author, Thomas Bernhard, insane. Or, at the very least, a difficult, incomprehensible eccentric. He writes here about his friend Paul Wittgenstein, a nephew of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein whose philosophy of language I studied in college but never understood. To Thomas Bernhard both Ludwig and Paul were mad philosophers, the only difference between them being that Ludwig was published and became famous while Paul never ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Dov rated it really liked it
"I am the happiest traveler—when I am on the move, moving on or moving off—but the unhappiest arriver." (88-89)

In "Wittgenstein's Nephew", Bernhard explores his ideal place -- the place between places. It may be we never quite set out and never quite arrive in the pages of this book, but travel breathlessly, with few rests, as if life depends upon endless moving in much the way the roadrunner ought to keep moving and never look down. It's when we stop and take account that we realize how far the
Vit Babenco
Mar 27, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
Wittgenstein's Nephew is about friendship but in some strange way it reminded me of The Castle by Franz Kafka
Between a man and freedom there is always a wall of bureaucracy…
“Paul’s mind quite simply exploded because he could not discard his intellectual fortune fast enough. In the same way Nietzsche’s mind exploded, just as all the other mad philosophical minds exploded, because they could no longer sustain the pace. Their intellectual fortune builds up at a faster and fiercer rate than the can
Dec 09, 2012 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is the first Bernhard book I've read. I was made aware of him by listening to an interview of W.G. Sebald. in it he mentioned that Bernhard was his mentor. if he helped Sebald find his voice, he must be special or maybe not. I was not disappointed . this is a raw-honest telling of his relationship with Paul Wittgenstein, nephew of Ludwig. it is about facing death, the cruel reality of aging, and the frailty of our minds and bodies. sounds like a real bummer of a book, eh. yet it is not, tot ...more
Jul 09, 2010 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Bernhard with a smile... of sorts. This is almost Bernhard-lite. There's still the one-paragraph-book, still the despair, anguish, hatred for humanity (which includes, of course, Bernhard), focus on the base elements of our nature, and the bile, the endlessly spewing bile. But it is all leavened by the nature of the story, which is about Bernhard's brilliant and doomed friend who is Wittgenstein's nephew and equally as brilliant as Ludwig Wittgenstein, even if he never put his brilliant thoughts ...more
a 100 page book consisting of 1 paragraph should not be this enjoyable to read (I read it in a day), especially without any kind of intriguing plot, flashy language or the like. But Bernhard's subtle writing style draws you in, always interesting and often hilarious, without appearing like he is trying all that hard to be. Most of all, it's the line of thought in this book that is the most impressive to me, the way it moves from thought to thought like a very good poem. I will definitely read mo ...more

I picked this up because I'd read Berhard's "The Loser" already and the same friend who had leant it to me suggested I check out another Berhard joint.

Part of the reason he interests me is because he is so consistently praised and oohed and ahhed over by (at least what I see of) the current literary establishment. So many people suggest that he is (or, more specifically, was) one of the very best of contemporary world writers that I suppose it would be poor form to neglect his work.

Plus, it
Oct 01, 2013 Islam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: استعارة
مقتطف/ صداقة
قلت لنفسى وأنا أجلس فوق دكة فى منتزه المدينة، إن هذه ربما تكون آخر مرة أرى فيها صديقى. لم أكن اعتقد أن جسدا بهذا الوهن، خبت فيه جذوة الحياة وانطفأت شعلة الإرادة، سيتحمل أكثر من بضعة أيام. زُلزل كيانى لرؤيته هكذا يعانى الوحدة فجأة، هذا الإنسان الذى هو بسليقته إنسان اجتماعى، كما يقولون، منذ مولده وحتى بلوغه، وظل اجتماعيا إلى أن أمسى كهلا ثم شيخا. ثم خطر على بالى كيف تعرّفت إلى هذا الإنسان الذى أضحى بالفعل صديقى، الذى طالما أسعدَ وجودى غاية السعادة، هذا الوجود الذى لم يكن با
Stephen Durrant
Mar 20, 2010 Stephen Durrant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The power of Thomas Bernhard's repetitive, obsessed, hard-driving prose enthralls me. Entering his novels, almost always written as a single paragraph, is to enter a disturbed but incredibly rich mind. Usually the narrator of his works seems not far removed from the author himself, and in this case, where the narrator is actually named "Thomas Bernhard," one seems squarely in the realm of autobiography. This is a story of friendship between two sick people: Thomas Bernhard, who has a serious pul ...more
Oct 10, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers who like a laugh, a shock, a challenge
Recommended to John by: maybe Donald Barthelme
Call it the contra-convalescent novel, in which laughter is the worst medicine & yet we can't help sticking out our arms for a fresh shot, because anyway it hurts more to be up on your feet than laid out in a hospital. Or is this a novella? WITTGENSTEIN'S NEPHEW has no chapter breaks, anyway, nor paragraph breaks either. As its shaggy-dog cynicism & worldliness spools out, the work may even rise to the technical challenge of carving out a new late-20th-Century form. This thing of darknes ...more
So when you have a long and unwieldy and somewhat overly specific phrase, it's funny the once, though not as funny as if you repeat the same long and unwieldy and somewhat overly specific phrase several times as you navigate through a long sentence made up of multiple dependent clauses each of which contains the aforementioned long and unwieldy and somewhat overly specific phrase, which repetition, then, builds to a grammatically-based hilarity built around the long and unwieldy and somewhat ove ...more
Neena Friedman
Feb 06, 2016 Neena Friedman rated it really liked it
Thomas Bernhard har sagt att om han ser en berättelse i det han skriver så skjuter han ner den. Han skriver inte berättelser.
Wittgensteins brorson är en berättelse om vänskap men det är inte en berättelse. Det han skriver är inte en beskrivning av en händelse utan händelsen i sig.

Det handlar om Paul Wittgenstein, Bernhards vän, som ligger på Baumgartnerhöhe samtidigt som Bernhard själv. Fast de befinner sig i olika PAVILJONGER.
Thomas Bernhard har opererat bort en tumör i halsen och förväntas bö
Oct 17, 2015 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Δεν ξέρω τι με ελκύει στον Μπερνχαρντ: ο χειμαρρώδης λόγος του, ο μισανθρωπισμός του, ο θαυμασμός - στα όρια της εμμονης - του αφηγητή για το πρόσωπο (οπως και στη Διόρθωση) που περιγράφει, οτι η γλώσσα του μου θυμίζει (δεν ξερω πώς) τον Χειμωνά ή τον Δημητριάδη).. Κρίμα που τόσα χρόνια τον φοβόμουν.
Sep 03, 2014 Jorge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parecería que el susceptible e inefable Thomas Bernhard se hubiese despertado de una pesadilla durante una madrugada cualquiera en la cual estuviese soñando con la muerte, con su tortuosa vida y con su difunto amigo Paul Wittgenstein y en ese momento se hubiese puesto a escribir, de un solo tirón, un texto acerca de estos temas que le habrían provocado una profunda impresión y que permanecían todavía muy vívidos en su interior y latiendo en su mente mientras terminaba su texto, mismo que hubiese ...more
Ben Eldridge
Feb 25, 2014 Ben Eldridge rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I can't believe this has such a high average rating... Wittgenstein's Nephew is one of the most pretentious - and dull - books I have encountered in my travels through art and life. It's a novella written in one 100-page paragraph that acts as a semi-autobiographical eulogy to Thomas Bernhard's friend - Ludwig Wittgenstein's nephew - Paul Wittgenstein. The majority of the book is horrendously repetitious, and the unchecked privilege and pomposity of Bernhard (the character) is really hard to swa ...more
Sep 04, 2007 Rob rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who think it's funny to hate life
Shelves: fiction
this book consists of a single paragraph. it's only 100 pages long, but that's still a pretty long paragraph.

it's kind of a prose poem, so it's sort of interesting that i actually enjoyed it in translation, since i often don't like translations at all. He uses a lot of repetition, and some people might find the style annoying, but i liked it.

basically, it's about his friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, who was the nephew of Ludwig Wittgenstein. He talks a lot about paul's madness and his own lung
Ayse Bilgen
Jan 23, 2016 Ayse Bilgen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Son demlerini yaşadıkları hayata öfke dolu iki dosttur, Paul (Wittgenstein'in Yeğeni ) ve Bernhard.
Roman, Bernhard'ın zihninden aktarılan öfke dolu bir monolog. Kitabın duygusu: her öfke ve her monolg gibi acıtıcı, tekrarlanan ve aynı kalan bir şeyler...

Daha önce hiç Thomas Bernhard okumamıştım. Gerçekten şaşkınım şu anda, çok etkilendim bu kısa romandan, çok yetkin bir anlatı. Kitabın sonunda Orhan Pamuk'un yorumları da çok aydınlatıcı oldu benim için. Orhan Pamuk “güvenli dünyalarından çıkma
Mar 30, 2016 Anysha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Příběh dvou mužů sdílejících podobný osud a historickou epochu začíná ve známé vídeňské léčebně Steinhof. První, vypravěč, pobývá na pavilonu pro pacienty s plicní chorobou, druhý leží upoután v klecovém lůžku na oddělení psychiatrie. Tím je Paul Wittgenstein (synovec známého filozofa Ludwiga Wittgensteina), který byl pro nechvalně proslulé záchvaty "šílenství" zatracen svými příbuznými a celou vídeňskou smetánkou. Tímto začíná Thomas Berhnhard vzpomínat na jejich přátelství, okolnosti seznámení ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Ellie rated it it was amazing
Another lucky combination for me: I love both morose Ludwig and bitter Thomas. I was in heaven with this book.
Ellie NYC
May 20, 2007 Lee rated it it was amazing
the key to all of Bernhard is on the last page.
Nov 11, 2011 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating little book
Feb 08, 2011 Oscar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esta es la historia de una amistad, la de Thomas Bernhard y Paul Wittgenstein. Thomas conoció a Paul a través de Irina, una amiga mutua, y pronto se vio que compartían opinión sobre muchos temas, como por ejemplo su amor por la música, de la que Paul es gran experto, sobre todo en óperas. Un momento importante en esta relación fue cuando ambos supieron que estaban ingresados en el mismo hospital, pero en distintos pabellones. Thomas estaba en el pabellón Hermann, dedicado a los enfermos de pulmó ...more
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Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Although internationally he's most acclaimed because of his novels, he was also a prolific playwright. His characters were oftenly working in a lifetime and never-ending major work while they deal with themes such as suicide, madness and obsession and, as B
More about Thomas Bernhard...

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“I avoid literature whenever possible, because whenever possible I avoid myself...” 23 likes
“I know nothing about nature. I hate nature, because it is killing me.” 8 likes
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